The Mias kassar or Simia morio is of the same color as the Mias pappan, but altogether smaller, and devoid of callosities either on the male or female adults.
By the native statements, therefore, we find three distinct species, viz. the Mias pappan or Simia Wurmbii, the Mias kassar or Simia morio, and the Mias rombi, which is either the Simia Abelii, or a fourth species. The existence of the Sumatran ourang in Borneo is by no means impossible; and I have already compared so many of the native statements, that I place more confidence in them than I did formerly, more especially as their account is in a great measure borne out by the skulls in my possession. I had an opportunity of seeing the Mias pappan and the Mias kassar in their native woods, and killing one of the former and several of the latter species. The distribution of these animals is worthy of notice, as they are found both at Pontiana and Sambas in considerable numbers, and at Sadung on the northwest coast, but are unknown in the intermediate country which includes the rivers of Sarawak and Samarahan. I confess myself at a loss to account for their absence on the Sarawak and Samarahan rivers, which abound with fruit, and have forests similar and contiguous to the Sadung, Linga, and other rivers. The distance from Samarahan to Sadung does not exceed twenty-five miles; and though pretty abundant on the latter, they are unknown on the former river. From Sadung, proceeding to the northward and eastward, they are found for about 100 miles, but beyond that distance do not inhabit the forests. The Mias pappan and Mias kassar inhabit the same woods, but I never met them on the same day; both species, according to the natives, are equally common, but from my own experience the Mias kassar is the most plentiful. The Mias rombi is represented as unfrequent and rarely to be met with. The pappan is justly named Satyrus, from the ugly face and disgusting callosities. The adult male I killed was seated lazily on a tree, and when approached only took the trouble to interpose the trunk between us, peeping at me, and dodging as I dodged. I hit him on the wrist, and he was afterward dispatched. I send you his proportions, enormous relative to his height; and until I came to actual measurement my impression was that he was nearly six feet in stature. The following is an extract from my journal relating to him, noted down directly after he was killed:—
"Great was our triumph as we gazed on the huge animal dead at our feet, and proud were we of having shot the first ourang we had seen, and shot him in his native woods, in a Borneo forest, hitherto untrodden by European feet. The animal was adult, having four incisors, two canines, and ten molars in each jaw; but by his general appearance he was not old. We were struck by the length of his arms, the enormous neck, and the expanse of face, which altogether gave the impression of great height, whereas it was only great power. The hair was long, reddish, and thin; the face remarkably broad and fleshy, and on each side, in the place of a man's whiskers, were the callosities or rather fleshy protuberances, which I was so desirous to see, and which were nearly two inches in thickness. The ears were small and well shaped, the nose quite flat, mouth prominent, lips thick, teeth large and discolored, eyes small and roundish, face and hands black, the latter being very powerful. The following are the dimensions:
ft. in. Height from head to heel 4 1 Length of foot 1 0 Ditto hand 0 10 1/2 Length of arm from shoulder-blade to finger-end 3 5 3/4 Shoulder-blade to elbow 1 6 Elbow to wrist 1 1 1/2 Hip to heel 1 9 Head to os coccygia 2 5 1/2 Across the shoulders 1 5 1/2 Circumference of neck 2 4 Ditto below the ribs 3 3 1/4 Ditto under the arms 3 0 From forehead to chin 0 9 3/4 Across the face, below the eyes, including callosities 1 1 From ear to ear across the top of the head 0 9 1/2 From ear to ear behind the head 0 9 3/4
The natives asserted the animal to be a small one; but I am skeptical of their ever attaining the growth of a tall man, though I bear in mind that full-grown animals will probably differ as much in height as man."
Some days after this, and about thirty miles distant, I was fortunate enough to kill two adult females (one with her young), and a male nearly adult, all the Mias kassar. The young male was not measured, owing to my having waded up to my neck in pursuit of him, and thereby destroyed my paper and lost my measure; but he certainly did not exceed 3 feet, while the two females were about 3 ft. 1 in. and 3 ft. 2 in. in height. The male was just cutting his two posterior molars: the color of all resembled that of the Mias pappan, but the difference between the two animals was apparent even to our seamen. The kassar has no callosities either on the male or female, whereas the young pappans dispatched by the Martin Luther (one of them not a year old, with two first molars) show them prominently. The great difference between the kassar and the pappan in size would prove at once the distinction of the two species; the kassar being a small, slight animal, by no means formidable in his appearance, with hands and feet proportioned to the body, and they do not approach the gigantic extremities of the pappan either in size or power; and, in short, a moderately strong man would readily overpower one, when he would not stand the shadow of a chance with the pappan. Beside these decisive differences may be mentioned the appearance of the face, which in the Mias kassar is more prominent in the lower part, and the eyes exteriorly larger, in proportion to the size of the animal, than in the pappan. The color of the skin in the adult pappan is black, while the kassar, in his face and hands, has the dirty color common to the young of both species. If further evidence was wanted, the skulls will fully prove the distinction of species; for the skulls of two adult animals compared will show a difference in size alone which must preclude all supposition of their being one species. Mr. Owen's remarks are, however, so conclusive, that I need not dwell on this point; and with a suite of skulls, male and female, from the adult to the infant, of the Mias kassar, which I shall have the pleasure to forward, there can remain, I should think, little further room for discussion. I may mention, however, that two young animals I had in my possession alive, one a kassar, the other a pappan, fully bore out these remarks by their proportionate size. The pappan, with two molars, showed the callosities distinctly, and was as tall and far stouter than the kassar with three molars, while the kassar had no vestige of the callosities. Their mode of progression likewise was different, as the kassar doubled his fists and dragged his hind quarters after him, while the pappan supported himself on the open hands sideways placed on the ground, and moved one leg before the other in the erect sitting attitude; but this was only observed in the two young ones, and cannot be considered as certainly applicable to all.
On the habits of the ourangs, as far as I have been able to observe them, I may remark, that they are as dull and as slothful as can well be conceived, and on no occasion when pursuing them did they move so fast as to preclude my keeping pace with them easily through a moderately clear forest; and even when obstructions below (such as wading up to the neck) allowed them to get way some distance, they were sure to stop and allow us to come up. I never observed the slightest attempt at defence; and the wood, which sometimes rattled about our ears, was broken by their weight, and not thrown, as some persons represent. If pushed to extremity, however, the pappan could not be otherwise than formidable; and one unfortunate man, who with a party was trying to catch a large one alive, lost two of his fingers, beside being severely bitten on the face, while the animal finally beat off his pursuers and escaped. When they wish to catch an adult, they cut down a circle of trees round the one on which he is seated, and then fell that also, and close before he can recover himself, and endeavor to bind him.
In a small work entitled "The Menageries," published in 1838, there is a good account of the Borneon ourang, with a brief extract from Mr. Owen's valuable paper on the Simia morio; but, after dwelling on the lazy and apathetic disposition of the animal, it states in the same page that they can make their way amid the branches of the trees with surprising agility; whereas they are the slowest and least active of all the monkey tribe, and their motions are surprisingly awkward and uncouth. The natives on the northwest coast entertain no dread, and always represent the ourangs as harmless and inoffensive animals; and from what I saw, they would never attack a man unless brought to the ground. The rude hut which they are stated to build in the trees would be more properly called a seat or nest, for it has no roof or cover of any sort. The facility with which they form this seat is curious, and I had an opportunity of seeing a wounded female weave the branches together, and seat herself within a minute; she afterward received our fire without moving, and expired in her lofty abode, whence it cost us much trouble to dislodge her. I have seen some individuals with nails on the posterior thumbs, but generally speaking, they are devoid of them: of the five animals sent home, two have the nails, and three are without them; one has the nail well formed, and in the other it is merely rudimentary. The length of my letter precludes my dwelling on many particulars which, as I have not seen the recent publications on the subject, might be mere repetitions; and I will only mention, as briefly as I can, the skulls of these animals in my possession. From my late sad experience I am induced to this, that some brief record may be preserved from shipwreck. These skulls may be divided into three distinct sorts. The first presents two ridges, one rising from each frontal bone, which, joining on the top of the head, form an elevated crest, which runs backward to the cerebral portion of the skull.
The second variety is the Simia morio; and nothing need be added to Mr. Owen's account, save that it presents no ridge whatever beyond the frontal part of the head. No. 9 in the collection is the skull of an adult male: No. 2 the male, nearly adult, killed by myself: Nos. 11 and 3 adult females, killed by myself: No. 12 a young male, with three molars, killed by myself: No. 21 a young male, died aboard, with three molars: No. 19, young male, died aboard, with two molars. There are many other skulls of the Simia morio which exactly coincide with this suite, and this suite so remarkably coincides through the different stages of age, one with another, that no doubt can exist of the Simia morio being a distinct species. The different character of the skull, its small size and small teeth, put the matter beyond doubt, and completely establish Mr. Owen's acute and triumphant argument, drawn from a single specimen.
The third distinction of the skulls is, that the ridges rising from the frontal bones do not meet, but converge toward the top of the head, and again diverge toward the posterior portion of the skull. These ridges are less elevated than in the first-mentioned skulls, but the size of the adult skulls is equal, and both present specimens of aged animals. For a long time I was inclined to think the skulls with the double ridge were the females of the animals with the single and more prominent ridge; but No. 1 (already described as killed by myself) will show that the double ridge belongs to an adult and not young male animal, and that it belongs to the Simia Wurmbii with the huge callosities. The distinction therefore cannot be a distinction of sex, unless we suppose the skulls with the greater development of the single ridge to belong to the female, which is improbable in the highest degree. The skulls with the double and less elevated ridges belong, as proved by No. 1, to the Simia Wurmbii; and I am of opinion the single and higher ridge must be referred to another and distinct species, unless we can account for this difference on the score of age. This, I conceive, will be found impossible, as Nos. 7 and 20 are specimens similar to No. 1, with the double and less elevated ridges decidedly old, and Nos. 4 and 5 are specimens of the single high ridge, likewise decidedly old.
These three characters in the skulls coincide with the native statements of there being three distinct species in Borneo, and this third Borneon species may probably be found to be the Simia Abelii, or Sumatran ourang. This probability is strengthened by the adult female on her way home: her color is dark brown, with black face and hands; and in color of hair, contour, and expression, she differs from the male ourangs with the callosities to a degree that makes me doubt her being the female of the same species. I offer you these remarks for fear of accident; but should the specimens, living and dead, arrive in safety, they will give a fresh impetus to the inquiry, and on my next return to Borneo I shall, in all probability, be able to set the question at rest, whether there be two or three species in that country. Believe me, my dear sir, with best wishes, to remain,
Yours very truly, J. Brooke.
Borneo, like Celebes, teems with Natural History unknown to European science; and Mr. Brooke has sent some remarkable specimens to England, though his own large collection was, unfortunately, wrecked on its voyage homeward. Every arrival, however, is now adding to the stores we already possess. The British Museum has been much enriched, even within the last year, with rare specimens of zoology and botany; and at the Entomological Society there have been exhibited and described many curious insects hitherto strange and unclassified.
It was intended in this work to convey to the studious in philology,—upon which science, rationally investigated, so much depends on our ability to ascertain the origin and trace the earliest relations of mankind,—as copious a vocabulary of the Dyak language, with definitions of meaning and cognate references, as might be considered a useful contribution to that important branch of learning. But various considerations have induced us to forego the design; and not the least of them has been, not the difficulty, but the impossibility of reducing the whole collection to a system, or of laying down any certain rule of orthography in this Oriental confusion. Nearly all the vowels, for example, have been found of equal value; and as they have but one general Malay name, so it happens that (for instance) the consonants b dmight be pronounced with the intervening sound, bad, bed, bid, bod, bud, and sundry variations beside, unknown to the English tongue. This will in a great degree account for the universally vexatious, because puzzling, spelling, inflections, and pronunciation of Eastern names, which is so injurious to the literature and knowledge of those countries among Europeans.
The vowel-sounds adopted are:
a like a in father. e " a in fan. i " Italian i, or ee in thee. i " i in pin. o " o in spoke. u " oo in cool. u " u in run. y occasionally like i. ow (ou) like ow in cow.
The final k in Malayan is frequently mute: thus Dyak is pronounced Dyaa, with the slightest possible aspiration.
gn is a liquid sound.
We add an alphabetical list of some of the words which have occurred in the preceding pages.
Arafuras, or Haraforas, natives of Papua.
Balanian, wild tribes in Borneo.
Bandar, or Bandhara, treasurer, high steward, high officer of state.
Basaya, tribes in the interior of Borneo Proper, locating near and resembling the Murut.
Battara, one of the Dyak names of God (the Hindu Avatara).
Borneo, the island of, written "Bruni" by the inhabitants.
Borneo Proper, the northern and northwestern part of the island; an independent Malay state.
Borneons, the Malay inhabitants of Borneo Proper.
Bruni, the native name for Borneo.
Bugis, natives of Celebes.
Bulan, the Moon, a poetical title of honor to a pirate-chief.
Campong, a native village, or town.
Datu, a cape or point of land to the northwest of the river Banjamassim.
Datus, strictly, native chiefs, heads of tribes.
Dusun, agricultural villagers on the northern extremity of Borneo.
Dyaks; or Dyak, aborigines of Borneo, and generally pronounced Dyah.
Dyak Darrat, Land Dyaks.
Dyak Laut, Sea Dyaks.
Gantong, a Malay measure for rice.
Gunong, a mountain.
Hadji, a Mahomedan who has made a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Haraforas, or Arafuras, natives of Papua.
Idaans [Kadiens], Borneon tribes, and the name generally given to most of the varieties of the Indian Archipelago.
Illanuns or Lanuns, pirates inhabiting the small cluster of islands between Borneo and Magindano.
Jovata, a Dyak name of God, of Hindu origin.
Kadiens, Borneon tribes, Mahomedans, the Idaan of preceding voyagers and writers. See Idaans.
Kalamantan, an original name of Borneo.
Kanowit, wild tribes in Borneo.
Kaya, a title of authority, Orang Kaya de Gadong, chief man of Gadong.
Kayans, the most powerful and warlike people of Borneo, living inland.
Kuching, the former name of the town of Sarawak.
Lubuan, the island off Borneo river, ceded by the sultan to the British crown.
Magindano, an island off the northeast of Borneo, the natives of which are pirates.
Makassar, the straits of, usually written Macassar, but more accurately Mangkassar.
Malays, settled on the Malayan peninsula, coasts of Borneo, &c. &c., a race of seafaring character, often piratical, and conquerors of various native tribes in the Indian Archipelago.
Malukus, pirates from a bay in Gillolo, whose country is in the possession of the Dutch.
Marundum, an island off Borneo.
Matari, or Mata-hari(the eye of day), the Sun, a poetical title of honor to a pirate-chief.
Mias Rombi and M. Pappan, two species of ourang-outang, determined by Mr. Brooke.
Millanows, a tribe resembling the Kayans, living near the river Meri, river Bentulu, tolerably civilized, and fairer than the Malays.
Minkokas, a wild tribe near the Bay of Boni.
Morotaba river, one of the mouths of the Sarawak.
Montrado, a very large and populous Chinese settlement near Point Data.
Murut, inhabitants of the interior of Borneo Proper.
Natunas, islands off Borneo.
Ondong-ondong, the written law of Borneo.
Orang, a man.
Orang outang, a wild man.
Pangeran, or Pangiran, the title of a high Malay authority.
Panglima, the head warrior of a Dyak tribe.
Patingi, or Patingus, a high local officer.
Patobong, the name of the ranjows and sudas, defences in war.
Patakan Dyaks, said by the Malays to be cannibals.
Pontiana, one of the finest rivers in Borneo; also the name of natives on its banks. The Dutch have a settlement on this river.
Ranjows, bamboo-spikes stuck in the ground to wound the feet of attacking enemies, or concealed in pits to wound or destroy them.
Rhio, a Malay settlement, under Dutch control.
Sadung, a river adjoining the Sarawak.
Sakarra, a Dyak god, residing in the Pleiades.
Sakarran, a river like the Sarebus (which see), with a similar native population on its banks.
Satigi, a wooden spear, or dart.
Sampan, a small prahu.
Sarebus, a river flowing into the deep bay between Tanjong Sipang and Tanjong Sirak.
Sarebus, powerful Dyak tribes and pirates, located on the above, and other rivers flowing into the bay. They have thrown off the Malay yoke, and plunder as far as Celebes.
Seriff, or Sheriff, a high Malay title, peculiar to persons of Arab descent.
Sibnowans, or Sibnyons, Mr. Brooke's favorite tribe of Dyaks, of superior character.
Singe, Dyak tribes.
Songi Besar, large river.
Sooloo, on the northeast of Borneo, a powerful piratical nest, the natives of which massacred the garrison of Balambangan in 1775.
Sudahs, defences to wound the feet of attacking enemies.
Sumpitan, or Simpote, a tube seven or eight feet in length, through which the Borneons blow small sharp-pointed arrows.
Tanjong, a point of land.
Turaj, or Tarajahs, natives of Celebes.
Tatows, wild tribes in the interior of Borneo.
Tiran, natives on the north of Borneo, reported (on doubtful authority) to be pirates and cannibals.
Tuan, sir, an exclamation of assent to an approved speaker, instead of "hear, hear," or "yes."
Tuan Besar, sir, great, great chief, higher applause and deference.
Tumangong, a local Malay officer.
Tumbilans, a beautiful group of about 150 small islands between Borneo and Singapore.
Tuppa, a Dyak god.
Wakil, a deputy.
Zedong, like the Tiran, which see.
Proposed Exploring Expedition to the Asiatic Archipelago, by James Brooke, Esq. 1838.
The voyage I made to China opened an entirely new scene, and showed me what I had never seen before, savage life and savage nature. I inquired, and I read, and I became more and more assured that there was a large field of discovery and adventure open to any man daring enough to enter upon it. Just take a map and trace a line over the Indian Archipelago, with its thousand unknown islands and tribes. Cast your eye over the vast island of New Guinea, where the foot of European has scarcely, if ever, trod. Look at the northern coast of Australia, with its mysterious Gulf of Carpentaria; a survey of which, it is supposed, would solve the great geographical question respecting the rivers of the mimic continent. Place your finger on Japan, with its exclusive and civilized people; it lies an unknown lump on our earth, and an undefined line on our charts! Think of the northern coast of China, willing, as is reported, to open an intercourse and trade with Europeans, spite of their arbitrary government. Stretch your pencil over the Pacific Ocean, which Cook himself declares a field of discovery for ages to come! Proceed to the coast of South America, from the region of gold-dust to the region of furs—the land ravaged by the cruel Spaniard and the no less cruel Bucaneer—the scene of the adventures of Drake and the descriptions of Dampier. The places I have enumerated are mere names, with no specific ideas attached to them: lands and seas where the boldest navigators gained a reputation, and where hundreds may yet do so, if they have the same courage and the same perseverance. Imagination whispers to ambition that there are yet lands unknown which might be discovered. Tell me, would not a man's life be well spent—tell me, would it not be well sacrificed, in an endeavor to explore these regions? When I think on dangers and death, I think of them only because they would remove me from such a field for ambition, for energy, and for knowledge.
Borneo, Celebes, Sooloo, the Moluccas, and the islands of the Straits of Sunda and Banka, compose what is called the Malayan group; and the Malays located on the sea-shores of these and other islands may with certainty be classed as belonging to one people. It is well known, however, that the interior of these countries is inhabited by various tribes, differing from the Malays and each other, and presenting numerous gradations of early civilization: the Dyaks of Borneo, the Papuans of New Guinea, and others, beside the black race scattered over the islands. Objects of traffic here as elsewhere present interesting subjects of inquiry; and while our acquaintance with every other portion of the globe, from the passage of the Pole to the navigation of the Euphrates, has greatly extended, it is matter of surprise that we know scarcely anything of these people beyond the bare fact of their existence, and remain altogether ignorant of the geographical features of the countries they inhabit. Countries which present an extended field for Christianity and commerce, which none surpass in fertility, rich beyond the Americas in mineral productions, and unrivaled in natural beauty, continue unexplored to the present day; and, spite of the advantages which would probably result, have failed to attract the attention they so well deserve. The difficulty of the undertaking will scarcely account for its non-performance, if we consider the voluntary sacrifices made on the shrine of African research, or the energy displayed and the sufferings encountered by the explorers of the Polar regions: yet the necessity of prosecuting the voyage in an armed vessel, the wildness of the interior tribes, the lawless ferocity of the Malays, and other dangers, would prevent most individuals from fixing on this field for exertion, and points it out as one which could best and most fully be accomplished by Government or some influential body.
It is not my object to enter into any detail of the past history of the Malayan nations, but I may refer to the undoubted facts that they have been in a state of deterioration since we first became acquainted with them; and the records of our early voyagers, together with the remains of antiquity still visible in Java and Sumatra, prove that once flourishing nations have now ceased to exist, and that countries once teeming with human life are now tenantless and deserted. The causes of such lamentable change need only be alluded to; but it is fit to remark, that while the standard of education is unfurled, and dreams are propagated of the progressive advancement of the human race, a large part of the globe has been gradually relapsing and allowed to relapse into barbarism. Whether the early decay of the Malay states, and their consequent demoralization, arose from the introduction of Mahommedism, or resulted from the intrigues of European ambition, it were useless to discuss; but we are very certain that this "Eden of the Eastern wave" has been reduced to a state of anarchy and confusion, as repugnant to every dictate of humanity as it is to the prospect of commercial advantage.
Borneo and Celebes, and indeed the greater portion of the islands of the Malayan Archipelago, are still unknown, and the apathy of two centuries still reigns supreme with the enlightened people of England; while they willingly make the most expensive efforts favorable to science, commerce, or Christianity in other quarters, the locality which eminently combines these three objects is alone neglected and alone uncared for. It has unfortunately been the fate of our Indian possessions to have labored under the prejudice and contempt of a large portion of the well-bred community. While the folly of fashion requires an acquaintance with the deserts of Africa, and a most ardent thirst for a knowledge of the usages of Timbuctoo, it at the same time justifies the most profound ignorance of all matters connected with the government and geography of our vast acquisitions in Hindoostan. The Indian Archipelago has fully shared this neglect; and even the tender philanthropy of the present day, which originates such multifarious schemes for the amelioration of doubtful evils, which shudders at the prolongation of apprenticeship for a single year in the West, is blind to the existence of slavery in its worst and most aggravated form in the East. Not a single prospectus is spread abroad; not a single voice is upraised to relieve the darkness of Paganism, and the horrors of the Eastern slave-trade. While the trumpet-tongue of many an orator excites thousands to the rational and charitable objects of converting the Jews and reclaiming the Gipsys; while the admirable exertions of missionary enterprise in the Ausonian climes of the South Sea have invested them with worldly power as well as religious influence; while we admire the torrent of devotional and philosophical exertion, we cannot help deploring that the zeal and attention of the leaders of these charitable crusades have never been directed to the countries under consideration. These unhappy countries have failed to rouse attention or excite commiseration; and as they sink lower and lower, they afford a striking proof how civilization may be dashed, and how the purest and richest lands under the sun may be degraded and brutalized by a continued course of oppression and misrule. It is under these circumstances that I have considered individual exertion may be usefully applied to rouse the zeal of slumbering philanthropy, and to lead the way to an increased knowledge of the Indian Archipelago. Such an exertion will be made at some cost and some sacrifice; and I shall here quit the general topic, and confine myself to the specific objects of my intended voyage.
It must be premised, however, that any plan previously decided on must always be subject during its execution to great modifications in countries where the population is always rude and often hostile, and where the influence of climate is sometimes so fatally opposed to the progress of inquiry. Local information, likewise, frequently renders such a change both advisable and advantageous; and circumstances, as they spring up, too often influence us beyond the power of foresight, more especially in my own case, where the utmost care would still leave the means very inadequate to the full accomplishment of the proposed undertaking. With a small vessel properly equipped, and provided with the necessary instruments for observation, and the means for collecting specimens in natural history, it is proposed in the first instance to proceed to Singapore, which may be considered as head-quarters for the necessary intervals of refreshment and repose, and for keeping open a certain communication with Europe. Here the best local information can be obtained, interpreters procured, the crew augmented for any particular service; and here, if needful, a small vessel of native construction may be added to the expedition, to facilitate the objects in view. An acquaintance may likewise be formed with the more respectable Bugis merchants, and their good-will conciliated in the usual mode, viz., by civility and presents, so as to remove any misconceived jealousy on the score of trading rivalry, and to induce a favorable report of our friendly intentions in their own country, and at the places where they may touch. The Royalist will probably reach Singapore in the month of March, 1839, at the latter end of the northwest, or rainy monsoon. The delay consequent on effecting the objects above mentioned, beside gaining a general acquaintance with the natural history and trade of the settlement, and some knowledge of the Malay language, will usefully occupy the time until the setting in of the southeast, or dry monsoon. It may be incidentally mentioned, however, that in the vicinity of Singapore there are many islands imperfectly known, and which, during the intervals of the rainy season, will afford interesting occupation. I allude, more especially, to the space between the Straits of Rhio and those of Duryan, and likewise to the island called Bintang, which, although laid down as one large island, is probably composed of small ones, divided by navigable straits; a better acquaintance with which might facilitate the voyage from Singapore to the more eastern islands, by bringing to light other passages beside those of Rhio and Duryan; and, at any rate, would add something to our geographical knowledge in the immediate vicinity of our settlement. On the commencement of the healthy season I propose sailing from Singapore, and proceeding without loss of time to Malludu Bay, at the north end of Borneo. This spot has been chosen for the first essay; and in a country every part of which is highly interesting, and almost unknown, the mere fact of its being a British possession gives it a prior claim to attention.
The objects in view may be briefly mentioned. 1. A general knowledge of the bay, and the correct position of various points—more especially the two principal headlands at its entrance, so as to determine its outline. The westernmost of these headlands, called Sampanmange, will likewise determine the extreme north point of Borneo. 2. Inquiries for the settlement of Cochin Chinese, reported, on Earl's authority, to be fixed in the vicinity of Bankoka: an intercourse will, if possible, be opened with this settlement, if in existence. 3. The rivers which flow into the bay will be carefully and minutely explored, and an attempt will be made to penetrate into the interior as far as the lake of Kini Ballu. 4. For the same purpose, every endeavor will be used to open a communication with the aboriginal inhabitants of the country, and every means employed to conciliate their good opinion; and (if the ceremony exists in this part of the island) to enter into the bonds of fraternity (described by Mr. Dalton) with some of the chiefs.
I speak with great diffidence about penetrating into the interior of this country, for I am well aware of the insurmountable difficulties which the hard reality often presents, which are previously overlooked and easily overcome in the smoothness of paper, or the luxury of a drawing-room. The two points to be chiefly relied upon for this purpose are, a friendly intercourse with the natives, and the existence of navigable rivers. It is mentioned by Sir Stamford Raffles, on native authority, that a land communication, of not more than forty miles, exists between Malludu Bay and Lake Kini Ballu; but neither this computation, nor any other derived from the natives, however intelligent otherwise, can be relied on; for the inhabitants of these countries are generally ignorant of any measure for distance; and their reckoning by time is so vague, as to defy a moderately-certain conclusion. The fact, however, of the vicinity of the lake to the bay may be concluded; and it follows, as a reasonable inference, that the river or rivers flowing into the bay communicate with the lake. The existence of such rivers, which were from the locality to have been expected, is vouched for by Captain Forrest. "Most of this north part of Borneo (he says), granted to the English East India Company by the Sooloos, is watered by noble rivers: those that discharge themselves into Malludu Bay are not barred." It is by one or other of these rivers that I should hope to penetrate as far as the lake and mountain of Kini Ballu, and into the country of the Idaan. I have not been able to learn that any Malay towns of importance are situated in the bight of Malludu Bay, and their absence will render a friendly communication with the aborigines a matter of comparative ease. The advantages likely to result from such friendly relations are so evident, that I need not dwell upon them; though the mode of effecting such an intercourse must be left to the thousand contingencies which govern all, and act so capriciously on the tempers of the savage races. The utmost forbearance, and a liberality guided by prudence, so as not to excite too great a degree of cupidity, appear the fundamental rules for managing men in a low state of civilization. The results of an amicable understanding are as uncertain as its commencement; for they depend on the enterprise of the individual, and the power of the native tribe into whose hands he may have fallen. I will not, therefore, enter into a visionary field of discovery; but it appears to me certain that, without the assistance of the natives, no small party can expect to penetrate far into a country populous by report, and in many parts thickly covered with wood. Without entertaining any exaggerated expectation, I trust that something may be added to our geographical knowledge of the sea-coast of this bay, its leading features, productions, rivers, anchorages, and inhabitants, the prospect of trade, and the means of navigation; and although my wishes lead me strongly to penetrate as far as the lake of Kini Ballu, yet the obstacles which may be found to exist to the fulfillment of this desire will induce me to rest satisfied with the more moderate and reasonable results.
It may not be superfluous to notice here, that a foregone conclusion appears to be spread abroad regarding the aboriginal (so called) inhabitants of Borneo, and that they are usually considered and mentioned under the somewhat vague appellation of Dyaks. They are likewise commonly pronounced as originating from the same stock as the Arafuras of Celebes and New Guinea, and radically identical with the Polynesian race. The conclusion is not in itself highly improbable, but certainly premature, as the facts upon which it is built are so scanty and doubtful as to authorize no such structure. On an island of the vast size of Borneo, races radically distinct might exist; and at any rate, the opposite conclusion is hardly justifiable, from the specimens of language or the physical appearance of the tribes of the southern portion of the country. We have Malay authority for believing that there are many large tribes in the interior, differing greatly in their degree of civilization, though all alike removed from the vicinity of a superior people. We have the Dyaks of the south; the Idaan of the north; the Kagins; and a race little better than monkeys, who live in trees, eat without cooking, are hunted by the other tribes, and would seem to exist in the lowest conceivable grade of humanity. If we may trust these accounts, these latter people resemble in many particulars the Orang Benua, or aborigines of the peninsula; but the Dyaks and Idaans are far superior, living in villages, cultivating the ground, and possessing cattle. Beside these, likewise, we have the names of several other tribes or people; and, in all probability, many exist in the interior with whom we are unacquainted.
There are strong reasons for believing that the Hindoo religion, which obtained so extensively in Java and Sumatra, and yet survives at Bali and Lombock, was likewise extended to Borneo; and some authors have conceived grounds for supposing a religion anterior even to this. If only a portion of these floating opinions should be true, and the truth can only be tested by inquiry, we may fairly look for the descendants of the Hindoo dynasty as well as an aboriginal people. It never seems to have occurred to any one to compare the Dyaks with the people of Bali and Lombock. We know indeed but little of the former; but both races are fair, good-looking, and gentle. Again, respecting the concluded identity of the Dyaks and the Arafuras, it is clear we have a very limited knowledge indeed of the former; and, I may ask, what do we know of the Arafuras?
In short, I feel as reluctant to embrace any preconceived theory as I am to adopt the prevailing notion on this subject; for it requires a mass of facts, of which we are wholly deficient, to arrive at anything approaching a reasonable conclusion. To return, however, to the proceedings of the Royalist, I would remark, that it depends greatly on the time passed in Malludu Bay whether our next endeavor be prosecuted at Abai on the western, or Tusan Abai on the eastern coast. The object in visiting Abai would he chiefly to penetrate to the lake, which, on the authority of Dalrymple and Burton, is not far distant thence, by a water communication; but should any success have attended similar efforts from Malludu Bay, this project will be needless, as in that case the enterprise will have been prosecuted to the westward, and reach to the vicinity of Abai. As Kaminis is the limit of the British territory to the westward, so Point Kaniungan, situated to the southward of the bay of Sandakan, forms the eastern boundary; and a line drawn from coast to coast between these points is represented as including our possessions. A reference to the chart will show the extent to be considerable; and the eastern coast from Malludu Bay to Point Kaniungan is so very little known, that it is highly desirable to become acquainted with its general features and conformation, and to seek thence the means of gaining an inlet into the interior, should it be denied at Malludu Bay.
The reported proximity of Kini Ballu to Malludu Bay, and likewise to Abai would (supposing it is anything like the size it is affirmed to be) lead us to expect that it cannot be far distant from the eastern coast; and it is but reasonable to conclude that some rivers or streams discharge themselves into the sea in the numerous indentations that abound on this shore. However this may be, the coast, with its bays and islands and bold headlands, is one of great interest, and almost unknown; and the careful inspection of it as far as Point Kaniungan will, I trust, add something to our knowledge. The longitude of Point Kaniungan and Point Unsang will likewise determine the eastern extremity of Borneo.
Much more might be added on this topic, especially of the reported communication by a line of lakes from Malludu Bay to Banjarmassim, which, if true, would in all probability place some of these lakes near particular points of the east coast, as the whole line, from the relative position of the two extremes, must be on the eastern side of the island. These reports, and the various surmises which arise from them, are rather matters for verification than discussion; and I will therefore only add that, tempted by success, I shall not devote less than a year and a half to this object; but, in case of finding a sickly climate, or meeting with a decidedly hostile population, I shall more easily abandon the field, and turn to others of not less interest, and perhaps of less risk.
Equal to Borneo in riches, and superior in picturesque beauty to any part of the Archipelago, is the large and eccentric country of the Bugis, called Celebes. So deep are the indentations of its coasts, that the island may be pronounced as being composed of a succession of peninsulas, nearly uniting in a common center in the district of Palos; and thus, by the proximity of every part to the sea, offering great facilities for brief and decisive interior excursions. The Dutch are in possession of Makassar, and had formerly settlements on the northwest coast and in the bay of Sawa. Their power appears, however, never to have been very extensively acknowledged; and at present I have not been able to meet with any account of the condition of their factories. This information will probably be gained at Singapore. Avoiding the Dutch settlements, I propose limiting my inquiries to the northern and northeastern portion of the island, more especially the great bay of Gunong Tella. It is impossible to state here the direction of these inquiries, or any definite object to which they should be turned, as I am acquainted with no author who speaks of the country, save in a general and vague manner. It is reported as rich, fertile, mountainous, strikingly beautiful, and possessed of rivers; abounding in birds, and inhabited, like Borneo, by wild tribes in the interior, and by the Bugis on the sea-shores and entrance of rivers. The character of the Bugis, though so variously represented, gives me strong hopes of rendering them, by care and kindness, useful instruments in the prosecution of these researches; for all writers agree that they are active, hardy, enterprising, and commercial; and it is seldom that a people possessing such characteristics are deaf to the suggestions of self-interest or kindly feeling. The arrogance, and especially the indolence, of the Malays, counteracts the influence of these strong incentives; and the impulse which governs such rude tribes as the Dyaks and Arafuras is a dangerous weapon, which cuts all ways, and often when least anticipated. The Badjows, or sea-gipsys, are another race on whom some dependence may be placed. Mr. Earl, who had a personal acquaintance with this tribe, and could speak their language, always expressed to me a degree of confidence in their good faith, which must have had some grounds.
I may here conclude the first stage of the expedition, during the progress of which the head-quarters will be fixed at Singapore. During some of the intervals I hope to see Manilla, and to acquire a cursory knowledge of the unexplored tract at the southern extremity of Celebes, called in Norie's general chart the Tiger Islands.
The time devoted to the objects above mentioned must, as I have before said, be regulated by the degree of fortune which attends them; for, cheered by success, I should not readily abandon the field; yet, if persecuted by climate, or other serious detriments, I shall frequently shift the ground, to remove myself beyond such evil influence. It is scarcely needful to continue a detail of projects so distant, having already carved out for myself a work which I should be proud to perform, and which is already as extended as the chances of human life and human resolves will warrant. The continuation of the voyage would lead me to take the Royalist to Timor or Port Essington, thence making excursions to the Arru Isles, Timor Laut, and the southern shores of New Guinea. That part of the coast contiguous to Torres Straits I am particularly desirous of visiting; as it has been suggested to me by Mr. Earl, and I think with reason, that a better channel than the one we are at present acquainted with may be found there. That such a channel exists, and will be discovered when the coast is surveyed, I entertain but little doubt; but the navigation is hazardous, and must, from the westward, be attempted with great caution.
My own proceedings must, of course, be regulated by the discoveries previously made by Captain Wickham or others; and as this gentleman has orders to survey Torres Straits, the field may be well trodden before I reach it. The rest of the voyage I shall consider as one merely of pleasure, combining such utility as circumstances will permit. It is probable that I shall visit our Australian settlements; glance at the islands of the Pacific; and return to Europe round Cape Horn. Before concluding, I may observe, that there are points of inquiry which may be useful to the studies of the learned, which (provided the process be moderately simple) I shall be willing to make, and I shall always be happy to receive any directions or suggestions regarding them. I allude to observations on the tides, to geology, to the branches of natural history, &c. &c., for the general inquirer often neglects or overlooks highly intersting facts, from his attention not having been called to them. The specimens of natural history will be forwarded home on every visit to Singapore; and the information will be sent ot the Geographical Society, and may always, if it be of any value, be used as freely as it is communicated. In like manner, the objects of natural history will be open to any person who is at all interested in such pursuits. I cannot but express my regret, that from pecuniary considerations as well as the small size of the vessel, and the limited quantity of provision she carries, I am unable to take a naturalist and draughtsman; but I should always hail with pleasure any scientific person who joined me abroad, or who happened to be in the countries at the time; and I may venture to promise him every encouragement and facility in the prosecution of his pursuits. I embark upon the expedition with great cheerfulness, with a stout vessel, a good crew, and the ingredients of success as far as the limited scale of the undertaking will permit; and I cast myself upon the waters—like Mr. Southey's little book—but whether the world will know me after many days, is a question which, hoping the best, I cannot answer with any positive degree of assurance.
Sketch of Borneo, or Pulo Kalamantan, by J. Hunt, Esq.
(Communicated, in 1812, to the Honourable Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, late Lieutenant-Governor of Java.)
The island of Borneo extends from 7 deg. 7' north to 4 deg. 12' south latitude, and from 108 deg. 45' to 119 deg. 25' east longitude; measuring at its extreme length nine hundred miles, at its greatest breadth seven hundred, and in circumference three thousand. It is bounded on the north by the Solo seas, on the east by the Straits of Macassar, on the south by the Java, and on the west by the China seas. Situated in the track of the most extensive and valuable commerce, intersected on all sides with deep and navigable rivers, indented with safe and capacious harbors, possessing one of the richest soils on the globe, abounding in all the necessaries of human life, and boasting commercial products that have in all ages excited the avarice and stimulated the desires of mankind,—with the exception of New Holland, it is the largest island known. Of the existence of this extensive territory, so highly favored by Providence, and enriched by the choicest productions of nature, there remains scarce a vestige in the geographical descriptions of the day; and its rich products and fertile shores, by one tacit and universal consent, appear abandoned by all the European nations of the present age, and handed over to the ravages of extensive hordes of piratical banditti, solely intent on plunder and desolation.
The natives and the Malays, formerly, and even at this day, call this large island by the exclusive name of Pulo Kalamantan, from a sour and indigenous fruit so called. Borneo was the name only of a city, the capital of one of the three distinct kingdoms on the island. When Magalhaens visited it in the year 1520, he saw a rich and populous city, a luxuriant and fertile country, a powerful prince, and a magnificent court: hence the Spaniards hastily concluded that the whole island not only belonged to this prince, but that it was likewise named Borneo. In this error they have been followed by all other European nations. The charts, however, mark this capital "Borneo Proper," or in other words, the only place properly Borneo: this is the only confession of this misnomer that I have met with among Europeans. The natives pronounce Borneo, Bruni, and say it is derived from the word Brani, courageous; the aboriginal natives within this district having ever remained unconquered.
The aborigines of Borneo, or Pulo Kalamantan, still exist in the interior in considerable numbers; there are various tribes of them, speaking different dialects. Some of them acknowledge Malay chiefs, as at Landa, Songo, Mantan, &c. Several communities of them still remain under independent chiefs of their own nation; and everywhere their origin, their language, their religion, their manners and customs, are totally distinct and apparent from those of the Islams, or Malays, who have settled on the island. About Pontiana and Sambas they are called Dayers; at Benjarmasing, Biajus; at Borneo Proper, Moruts; farther northward, Orang Idan. Their original history is as much enveloped in obscurity as that of the Monocaboes of Malaya, the Rejangs and Battas of Sumatra, or the Togals of the Philippines. On a nearer acquaintance with their language, customs, traditions, &c., perhaps an affinity in origin may be discovered among all the original possessors of the Eastern isles. The Moruts and Orang Idan are much fairer and better featured than the Malays, of a more strong and robust frame, and have the credit of being a brave race of people. The Dayer is much darker, and approaches nearer in resemblance to the Malay. The Biajus I never saw. The few particulars which I have been able to collect of these people I shall briefly state: They live in miserable small huts; their sole dress consists of a slight wrapper round their waists, sometimes made of bark, at others from skins of animals, or perhaps of blue or white cloth; they eat rice or roots, and indeed any description of food, whether beast, reptile, or vermin: they are extremely filthy; this and bad food give them a cutaneous disorder, with which they are very generally afflicted. Several tribes of them smear themselves with oil and pigments, which gives them the appearance of being tattooed. Whether this is intended to defend them against the bites of insects, to operate as a cure or prevention of this epidemic, or to adorn their persons, I cannot take upon me to decide. They believe, it is said, in a Supreme Being, and offer sacrifices of gratitude to a beneficent Deity. Polygamy is not allowed among them; no man has more than one wife; they burn their dead. They are said to shoot poisoned balls or arrows through hollow tubes; and whenever they kill a man, they preserve the skull to exhibit as a trophy to commemorate the achievement of their arms. They are said to have no mode of communicating their ideas by characters or writing, like the Battas. Driven from the sea-coast of Borneo into the mountains and fastnesses in the interior, they are more occupied in the chase and the pursuits of husbandry than in commerce. They, however, barter their inland produce of camphor, gold, diamonds, birds'-nests, wax, and cattle, for salt (which they hold in the highest degree of estimation, eating it with as much gout as we do sugar), china, porcelain, brass and iron cooking utensils, brass bracelets, coarse blue and white cloth, Java tobacco, arrack (which they also like), parangs, hardware, beads, &c. Some tribes of them are said to pull out their front teeth and substitute others of gold, and others adorn themselves with tigers' teeth. The greatest numbers and most considerable bodies of these men are found near Kiney Balu and about Borneo Proper.
The Malays represent them as the most savage and ferocious of men; but to be more savage or ferocious than a Malay is a thing utterly impossible. Their representations may be accounted for. These aborigines have always evinced a strong disposition and predilection for liberty and freedom; they have either resisted the yoke of the Malay, or have retired to their mountains to enjoy this greatest of all human blessings. The Malay, unable to conquer them, lays plans for kidnapping as many as he can fall in with. Every Dyak so taken is made a slave of, his children sold, and his women violated. The Malay, hence, is justly considered by them as the violator of every law, human and divine; and whenever any of these people meet with one, they satiate their vengeance, and destroy him as the enemy of their race, and as a monster of the human kind. The Portuguese missionaries found these people very tractable converts, and very large bodies of them are very easily governed by a single Malay chief, as at Landa, Songo, and Matan. I have seen very large bodies of them at Kimanis and Maludu, but none of them possessing the ferocity of a Malay.
The Islams, or Malayans, who now possess the sea-coasts of Borneo (as well as the sea-coasts of all the Eastern islands), are said to be colonies from Malacca, Johore, &c., planted in the fourteenth century; at this period, according to Mr. Poivre, "Malacca was a country well peopled, and was consequently well cultivated. This nation was once one of the greatest powers in the Eastern seas, and made a very considerable figure in the theater of Asia; they colonized Borneo, Celebes, Macassar, Moluccas, &c." The Malays on Borneo are like the Malays everywhere else, the most atrocious race of beings on the earth; and from their general character, and imprudent institutions, both political and religious, are fast moldering in self-decay, or mutual destruction.
From the earliest date that I have been able to trace, the island of Borneo was always divided into three distinct kingdoms. The kingdom of Borneo, properly so called, extended from Tanjong Dato, in latitude 3 deg. 15' north, to Kanukungan point, in the Straits of Macassar, 1 deg. 15' north, which included the whole north part of the island. The kingdom of Sukadana (from suka, happiness, and dunia, the world, or earthly paradise), extending from Tanjong Dato to Tanjong Sambar, which belonged to the King of Bantam (when or how acquired I have not learned): and the remainder of the island from Tanjong Sambar to Kanukungan Point aforesaid, to the kingdom of Benjarmasing (from bendar, a port of trade, and masing, usual, or the ordinary port of trade).
When the Portuguese first visited Borneo, in 1520, the whole island was in a most flourishing state. The numbers of Chinese that had settled on her shores were immense; the products of their industry, and an extensive commerce with China in junks, gave her land and cities a far different aspect from her dreary appearance at this day, and their princes and courts exhibited a splendor and displayed a magnificence which has long since vanished.
Pigofetta says there were twenty-five thousand houses in the city of Borneo Proper, and that it was rich and populous. Much later accounts describe the numbers of Chinese and Japanese junks frequenting her ports as great; but in 1809 there were not three thousand houses in the whole city, nor six thousand Chinese throughout that kingdom, and not a junk that had visited it for years. But the ports of Borneo have not dwindled away more than Acheen, Johore, Malacca, Bantam, Ternate, &c. All these places likewise cut a splendid figure in the eyes of our first navigators, and have since equally shared a proportionate obscurity.
Were the causes required which have eclipsed the prosperity of Borneo and the other great emporiums of Eastern trade that once existed, it might be readily answered—a decay of commerce. They have suffered the same vicissitudes as Tyre, Sidon, or Alexandria; and like Carthage—for ages the emporium of the wealth and commerce of the world, which now exhibits on its site a piratical race of descendants in the modern Tunisians and their neighbors the Algerines—the commercial ports of Borneo have become a nest of banditti, and the original inhabitants of both, from similar causes—the decay of commerce—have degenerated to the modern pirates of the present day.
In exact proportion as the intercourse of the Europeans with China has increased, in precise ratio has the decrease of their direct trade in junks become apparent. The Portuguese first, and subsequently the Dutch, mistress of the Eastern seas, exacted by treaties and other ways the Malay produce at their own rates, and were consequently enabled to undersell the junks in China. But these powers went further; by settling at ports on Borneo, or by their guardas de costas, they compelled the ports of Borneo to send their produce, calculated for the China market, to Malacca and Batavia, which at length completely cut up the direct trade by means of the Chinese junks.
The loss of their direct intercourse with China affected their prosperity in a variety of ways. First, by this circuitous direction of their trade, the gruff goods, as rattans, sago, cassia, pepper, ebony, wax, &c., became too expensive to fetch the value of this double carriage and the attendant charges, and in course of time were neglected; the loss of these extensive branches of industry must have thrown numbers out of employment. But the loss of the direct intercourse with China had more fatal effects; it prevented large bodies of annual emigrants from China settling upon her shores; it deprived them of an opportunity of visiting the Borneon ports, and exercising their mechanical arts and productive industry; and of thus keeping up the prosperity of the country in the tillage of the ground, as well as in the commerce of her ports. The old Chinese settlers by degrees deserted these shores; and to fill up the chasms in their revenues by so fatal a change, the rajahs have been tempted to turn their views to predatory habits, and have permitted their lands to run to jungle, by dragging their wretched laborers from agricultural employments to maritime and piratical enterprises.
The first material alteration in the sovereignty of the territorial possession took place in the kingdom of Borneo Proper, when her rajah was obliged to call in the aid of the Solos to defend him against an insurrection of the Maruts and Chinese. In consideration of this important aid, the Rajah of Borneo Proper ceded to the Sultan of Solo all that portion of Borneo then belonging to him, from Kimanis, in latitude 5 deg. 30' north, to Tapean-durian, in the Straits of Macassar, which includes the whole north of Borneo. After this period, the power and fortunes of the Sultan of Solo rapidly declined. The Spaniards succeeded in conquering all their islands. Solo, the capital, was taken and fortified; the sultan and his court made prisoners. When the English captured Manilla, they found this sultan incarcerated. They agreed to relieve him from prison, and reinstate him on the musnud of his forefathers under the express stipulation that the whole of the aforesaid territory of Borneo, ceded to Solo by the rajah of that kingdom, should be transferred to the English East India Company, together with the south of Palawan, and the intermediate islands. These terms were joyfully acceded to by the Sultan of Solo, and signed, sealed, and delivered by him to the late Alexander Dalrymple, in the year 1763.
The kingdom of Sukadana was ceded by the Rajah of Bantam (in what year I know not) to the Dutch East India Company. Whether the kingdom of Benjarmasing was ever actually ceded to the Dutch or not, I have not been able to learn. But the occupancy of her capital, the military government of the country, by the erection of forts, and a permanent standing force, since transferred to the English arms, give to the East India Company, actually or virtually, the entire sovereignty and rule over the whole of this large island, with the exception of the piratical port of Borneo Proper, and the portion of territory yet annexed thereto.
The Portuguese, at a very early period, established themselves at Benjarmasing: at Borneo Proper there still remain two bastions and a curtain of a regular stone fort built by them: they had also one on the island of Laboan, since destroyed. They fixed themselves at old Sambas, from which they were driven by the Dutch in the year 1690, and nearly about this period from all their establishments on Borneo.
When, or from what causes, the Dutch were induced to evacuate Sambas, I know not, nor have I learned the period when they fortified themselves at Benjarmasing and Pasir, but believe it could not have taken place before the middle of the last century. They, however, settled at Pontiana in 1786, and built a fortified wall round the palace and factory, but were compelled to withdraw from it when the war broke out with the English in 1796. The ports at Benjarmasing, when evacuated, were sold by the Dutch to the sultan, and are since said to have been repurchased from him by the English. The Dutch obtaining the cession of the kingdom of Sukadana from the Rajah of Bantam, and their subsequent measures in different parts of this territory, will show that they had extensive views of firmly establishing themselves on this island; and waking from an age of lethargy, at last began to see the great advantages and unbounded resources these rich possessions were capable of affording them, without any cost or expense whatever. The year they withdrew from Pontiana they had it in contemplation to take repossession of Sambas, and to unite all the ports, as well as the interior, under the Rajah of Pontiana, in trust for them. Some letters to this effect were written by the Dutch government to the late rajah.
That the English were not insensible to the value and importance of the once valuable commerce of Borneo may be inferred not only from the number of the Honorable Company's regular ships annually dispatched to her ports prior to the year 1760 (vide Hardy's Shipping Register), but from the efforts they have repeatedly made to establish themselves on her shores. There still exist the remains of a British factory at Borneo Proper. Before the year 1706, they had made two successive attempts to fortify themselves at Benjarmasing; twice they have attempted an establishment on the sickly island of Balambangan (lying north of Borneo, near Maludu); and in 1775, the Honorable Company's ship Bridgewater was sent to Pasir with similar views.
The failure of these British attempts, as well as the exclusion of all other powers from the ports of Borneo, may be principally attributed to the sordid desire of the Dutch of monopolizing the whole produce of the Eastern Archipelago, and their rooted jealousy in opposing the establishment of every other power in the vicinity of Java, or that of the Spice Islands.
These considerations and feelings have induced them to commit the most flagrant crimes, not only against the natives of these regions, but against every European power. Their infamous massacres at Amboyna, Banda, Bantam, &c., have been historically recorded to their eternal disgrace. By their intrigues at Benjarmasing, the British attempts at a settlement twice failed; and Forrest, in his Voyage to New Guinea, says, that the Solos were by Dutch instigation induced to cut off the infant establishment of Balambangan, in 1775. They frustrated the attempts of the Bridgewater at Pasir; and even the massacre of the garrison of Pulo Condore was effected by Javanese soldiers supplied by the governor of Batavia. The English, from their strong desire of having a port in the China seas, hastily pitched upon the most unhealthy spots for that purpose, viz. Balambangan and Pulo Condore.
The father of the present Sultan of Pontiana was the descendant of an Arab, residing at Simpan, near Matan. By the advice and concurrence of the Dutch he was induced, about forty-two years ago, to settle on the unfrequented shores of the river Pontiana, or Quallo Londa, with promises of early cooeperation and assistance, as well as of rendering it the mart of the trade and capital of all Sukadana. As soon as Abdul Ramman (the name of the first sultan) had succeeded in attracting around him several Chinese, Buguese, and Malay settlers, and in building a town, the Dutch (in 1786) came with two armed brigs and fifty troops to establish their factory. To make good their promises to Abdul Ramman (the treaty I have never seen), they immediately overthrew the chief of Mompava, and gave his country in trust to this ally: they shortly after invested the ancient city of Sukadana, burned it to the ground, transferred the inhabitants to Pontiana, or dispersed them and their chief into the interior. The Dutch likewise placed the present rajas on the musnuds of Songo, Landa, &c., and kept up a force at the former, with the express stipulation that the whole of their produce should be sent from each of their respective districts to the Dutch factory of Pontiana. They had it in contemplation, in 1795, to take repossession of Sambas, and wrote to Abdul Ramman as to the preparatory measures requisite, when the English war, as before observed, obliged them to abandon Pontiana.
This Abdul Ramman, the first sultan or chief of Pontiana, reigned thirty-five years, and died in 1807, leaving his eldest son, the present Sultan Kasim, now forty-six years of age, his successor; who has a second brother, called Pangeran Marko, aged thirty-eight, and Pangeran Hosman, thirty-six years, beside four sisters, one of whom married the present Rajah of Matan, and about seventy half brothers and sisters, the natural children of his father, with an extensive sub-progeny. The present sultan has three sons (Abibuker, heir-apparent, twenty-one years old, Ali, and Abdul Ramman), and four daughters, lawfully begotten. None of the royal family make use of either opium, betel, or tobacco, in any shape whatever; and the present sultan has much the appearance of an Arab. The grandfather of the present sultan was from Arabia, a Sayed Suriff; one of his relations was fixed at Palimbang, whose name is unknown to me, and the other, Shad Fudyel, at Acheen, who has been long dead.
The wet season commences from September, and ends in April, when heavy rain, hard squalls, and much thunder and lightning are experienced. From April till September is called the dry season, but even in this portion of the year seldom a day elapses without a smart shower or two. The monsoons on the northerly shores of Borneo are found to correspond with those prevalent in the China seas, viz. from the N.E. from October to April, and from the S.W. the rest of the year. To the southward, about Benjarmasing, the monsoons are the same as in the Java seas, i. e. westerly from October to April, and easterly the rest of the year. Those parts of Borneo near or upon the equator have variable winds all the year, and land and sea breezes close in shore.
This country is by no means so warm as one would be led to imagine by its proximity everywhere to the line: this arises from the perpetual refreshing showers and the land and sea breezes, the former being wafted over innumerable rivers. In the month of November, the thermometer at Pontiana ranges from 78 deg. to 82 deg..
During the wet season, the rivers swell and overflow the adjacent shores, and run down with such continued rapidity, that the water may be tasted fresh at sea at the distance of six or seven miles from the mouths: these overflowings fertilize the banks and adjacent country, and render the shores of Borneo, like the plains of Egypt, luxuriantly rich. Susceptible of the highest possible culture, particularly in wet grain, in the dry season the coast, from these overflowings, presents to the eye the richest enameled fields of full grown grass for miles around. It is at this season that whole herds of wild cattle range down from the mountains in the interior to fatten on the plains, but during the wet season they ascend to their hills.
The whole of the north, the northwest, and the center of Borneo is extremely mountainous. The greatest portion of the ancient kingdom of Borneo Proper is extremely elevated. That of Kiney Baulu, or St. Peter's Mount, in latitude 6 deg. north, is perhaps one of the highest mountains known. The country about Sambas, Pontiana, and Sukadana is occasionally interspersed with a few ranges of hills, otherwise the land here might be deemed low. But to the southward, and more particularly to the east, in the Straits of Macassar, it is very low. The shore in these latter places is extremely moist and swampy, but the interior is said to be dry.
The common charts of Borneo will show the innumerable rivers that water this vast island in every possible direction; but it is worthy of remark, that all the principal rivers on this island have their main source in a large lake in the vicinity of that stupendous mountain before mentioned, Kiney Baulu. The river Benjarmasing takes its rise from thence, and after traversing in all its windings a distance of 1500 miles, intersecting the island into two parts, falls into the Java sea. Its rise and fall is said to be twelve feet, and it has only nine feet at low water on the bar. It is said to have numberless villages scattered on its banks; but I have obtained no particular accounts of them, or their produce.
The great river of Borneo Proper is certainly the finest on the island. It is a deep, navigable, and majestic stream; it has three fathoms upon the bar at low water; the rise and fall is, I believe, fifteen feet; there are docks here for Chinese junks of five or six hundred tons, and a first-rate ship of war might get up far above the town. The country, too, is populous, productive, and healthy. The southern branch of this river has been well surveyed, but the branch leading to the Marut country is little known; it has its source in Kiney Baulu.
In the ancient kingdom of Sukadana, the five principal rivers are the Sukadana, the Lava, the Pogore, the Pontiana, and the Sambas. The former rivers communicate inland, and their main source is in Kiney Baulu. The whole of these rivers are deep and navigable for seventy or eighty miles; but have all of them mud flats at their mouths, which would not admit of the entry of vessels exceeding fourteen feet at high water springs.
The third most considerable river on Borneo is the Kinabatangan, lying in the north of the island, and emptying itself into the Sulo seas. It is said to be deep and navigable much farther than the Benjarmasing river; it has several mouths, but it has never been surveyed. The rivers Kuran, Pasir, and a variety of others that fall into the Straits of Macassar, are said to be noble streams, navigable for vessels of large burthen; but I have no accurate information of them. The harbor of Sandakan is one of the finest in the world; a correct chart of the same is published. The harbor of Tambisan, near Cape Unsing, is equal to Pulo Pinang, and calculated for careening and building ships; a tolerable chart of these is also published. The harbors of Pulo Laut, Punangan, Maludu, and several others in the Straits of Macassar, afford good anchorage and complete shelter for shipping.
Situated as Borneo is, immediately under the equator, everything that can be produced in vegetation by the combined influence of heat and moisture is here displayed in the highest luxuriance and super-excellence. All the Oriental palms, as the cocoa-nut, the areca, the sago, &c., abound here. The larger grasses, as the bamboo, the canna, the nardus, assume a stately growth, and thrive in peculiar luxuriance. Pepper is found wild everywhere, and largely cultivated about Benjarmasing and the districts of Borneo Proper. The laurus cinnamomum and cassia odoriferata are produced in abundance about Kimanis. In no part of the world does the camphor-tree flourish in equal perfection as in the districts of Maludu and Payton, in the north of Borneo. The ebony, the dammar, the tree that yields the finest dragon's blood in the world, all abound here. The cotton and coffee trees are found in all parts of Borneo, though not much attended to. The chocolate nut of Sulo is preferred at Manilla to that from South America. The tree that yields the clove-bark, and the nutmeg, and clove, thrive luxuriantly, though never tried to any extent.
The woods about Pontiana for carpentry and joinery, are kayu bulean, chena, mintangore, laban, ebony, iron-wood, dammar, and dammar laut, &c. &c. The pine abounds in the bay of Maludu, teak at Sulo. The fruit-bearing trees which enrich and adorn the Indian continent, offer, on the Borneon shore, all their kindred varieties, nurtured by the bountiful hand of luxuriant nature. The durian, mangustin, rambutan, proya, chabi, kachang, timon, jambu, kniban, beside the nanka or jack, tamarind, pomplemose, orange, lemon, and citron, all the kindred varieties of the plantain, banana, melon, annanas, pomegranate, &c., are found on Borneo.
The garden-stuffs met with are onions, garlic, yams, pumpkins, brinjals, greens, beans, cucumbers; and turnips, cabbages, and potatoes would succeed, were there Europeans to attend to them.
The elephant was said to be seen about Cape Unsing, where several teeth are still found; but it is conceived this animal is extinct on the island. There are no dromedaries nor camels; nor are horses, asses, or mules met with on Borneo (the former are seen at Sulo). None of the larger breed of the feline species are found here, as the lion, tiger, leopard; nor the bear, the wolf, the fox, nor even a jackal, or dog, that I ever saw. The ourang-outang, or the man of the woods, is the most singular animal found in these regions. The rivers swarm with alligators, and the woods with every variety of the monkey tribe. The names of other animals on Borneo are the bodok or rhinoceros, pelando or rabbit, rusa or stag, kijang or doe, minjagon, babi utan or wild hog, tingileng, bintangan, &c. There are buffaloes, goats, bullocks, hogs, beside the rat and mouse species; a dog I never saw on Borneo.
There are few snakes on the sea-coast, owing to the moisture; plenty, however, are found in the interior. The musketoe, the fly, the frog, and the noisy beetle, with other insects and vermin found in Malay countries, abound here.
The coasts and rivers abound with excellent and wholesome fish in the greatest variety, and of the most delicious flavors; but such is the miserable state of society, that few Malays have either the inclination or the inducement to venture beyond the mouths of their rivers in quest of them; and even there they are more indebted to the industry of the Chinese with their fishing-stakes than to their own labor for the supply of their markets. The names of their fish are, the kakab, klabaw, jilawat, lai-is, pattain, udang or prawn, shrimp, talang, sinanging, bawan, rowan, taylaon, duri, bleda, tingairy, alu-alu, pako, jumpul, pari or skait, boli ayam, tamban or shad, belut or eel, iyu or shark, lida or sole, batu batu, kabab batu, klaoi, krang or cockle, tiram or oyster, tipy and lapis pearl oysters, cupang or muscle, all the varieties of the turtle, with several other sorts.
The ornithology of Borneo is somewhat limited. There are the bayan, nuri, dara, pepit or sparrow, tukukur or turtle-dove, berkey, kandang, kiridi, gogaw or crow, seyrindit, layang or swallow, kalilawan. The Chinese rear ducks; the tame fowl abounds; but the turkey, goose, and peafowl are seldom met with.
The principal gold mines on Borneo are in the vicinity of Sambas. There is a mountain called Guning Pandan, about eighty miles inland; from this branch out three rivers—one leads to Mompava, one to Batu Bulat near Tanjong Mora, and one to Landa; the whole intermediate area between the above rivers is of a firm yellow argillaceous schistus, or ferruginous quartz, interspersed with horn and vitreous ores, of a remarkable dark reddish color, abounding with the richest veins of gold, and equal if not superior to any mine extant. There are only fifty parets or mines now wrought in the whole kingdom of Sukadana, thirty of which are in the Sambas district, each mine having at least three hundred men, Chinese, employed in them. Their pay, one with another, is four dollars per mensem.
The mines are rented from the rajah at the rate of fifty bunkals of gold per mine per annum, beside a capitation tax of three dollars per head on every Chinaman. There are thirty thousand Chinese in the Sambas districts, and they feel themselves strong enough to oppose or evade this tax; it hence becomes a perpetual contest between greedy extortion on the one side, and avaricious chicane on the other; there are beside about twelve thousand Malays and Dayers.
The Laurat gold mines are situated to the eastward of the town of Sambas, and are particularly rich and productive. The mines of Siminis are one day's journey from Sambas, up a small creek leading from Sambas river, below the town; and the mines are abundant. Salako is up a river fifteen miles south of the Sambas river; it lies nearly forty miles up, but communicates with Sambas by another river: here the metal is found more abundant than anywhere else; and twenty thousand Chinese are found in this district. Mantrado is three days' journey up the Mompava river; it is under an independent Malay prince. Some accounts make the population of this district great, near fifty thousand Dayers, Malays, and Chinese; but perhaps half the number may be nearer the truth; these are chiefly employed on the gold mines, and in producing food for the miners; these mines, however, do not produce that quantity which they might under Chinese management. Mandore is about a day's journey from Pontiana, and belongs to the sultan; it is reckoned a very rich mine, though but recently wrought. There are as yet only twelve parets of about two hundred men each, but it is capable of extension. Likewise are found in this district some very rich specimens of copper ore; it has not as yet been wrought, gold being deemed a much more productive article. The sultan wishes, however, he had some boring utensils and an experienced miner, to enable him to decide whether it would be worth working under the peculiar circumstances above mentioned. Numbers of Chinese are settled in this district, and the population is annually increasing.
About three days' journey up the Pongole river lies the district of Songo, with a population of twenty-five thousand souls, Dayers, and a few Chinese, under a Malay and an independent prince. The population is chiefly employed on the rich mines of gold in the neighborhood, which is particularly pure and abundant; but the mines are not wrought with the same industry as those under Chinese management. The Dutch thought it of so much consequence as to keep a force at Songo, and to place the present rajah on that musnud. About two days' journey farther up lies another gold district, called Santam, the inhabitants of which are principally Dayers. Beyond Santam, and higher up on the same river, lies the town of Sukadow, abounding in gold, the inhabitants of which are also Dayers.
Matan belongs to the rajah of that name: he had the title of Rajah of Sukadana, until driven out of the latter place by the Dutch, seventeen years ago. There are ten thousand Dayers in this district, and a few Chinese and Malays. The mines of gold are abundant, and capable of becoming highly productive, as well as the mines of iron and unwrought tin; but the sultan is much addicted to the use of opium, and hence neglects a valuable country, capable, under better management, of becoming the most valuable district on all Borneo.
About three days' journey from Pontiana lies the celebrated mountain of Landa, which, after Golconda, is the most valuable diamond mine in the world. There are at least thirty thousand people, principally Dayers, employed on the mines and agriculture; it belongs to a Malay prince, raised to that musnud twenty-five years ago by the Dutch, through the agency of the present Sultan of Pontiana: here also much gold is produced; and much more might be had under proper management.
There is a very valuable gold mine in the north of Borneo, at a place called Tampasuk, situated in the district ceded to the English by the Sultan of Sulo; but having become the principal pirate port on the coast, the working of the mines has been discontinued.